BANGOR, Maine — Anyone needing a primer on how to carve a good pumpkin or set up a fun Halloween display in the hours before Halloween on Saturday needed only to have visited the Bangor Auditorium and Civic Center.
Around 20 local nonprofit organizations took part in Pumpkins in the Park, a fundraising event for United Cerebral Palsy of Northeastern Maine in which the groups designed scenes based on a theme while trying to incorporate creatively carved or fashioned pumpkins.
The event, now in its seventh year, also is a chance for families to trick-or-treat in a warm, safe environment. Each organization hands out candy to children — and some adults — dressed in costumes.
This is the first year Pumpkins in the Park actually has fallen on Halloween.
“It’s a safe, warm place to go trick-or-treating, and we’ve certainly seen a steady stream of people all day long,” said Bobbi Jo Yeager, executive director of UCP of Northeastern Maine. “We didn’t know whether having it on Halloween would be good or bad, but it seems like there’s been a steady crowd even though there’s a lot of competition [from other local events].”
UCP of Northeastern Maine’s fundraising goal is $30,000, Yeager added.
About 3,000 people traditionally turn out for the event, which this year had a movie theme.
Maine Rehab Outpatient Center of Eastern Maine Medical Center, which had the winning display last year, took first place again this year. Using 20 pumpkins, carved with help from the East Orrington Congregational Church youth group, the display featured 10 pumpkins propped up in rows, as if watching a movie on a screen — in “Masterpatch Theater,” according to a sign near the display.
The display also included 13 movie theme songs from films such as “Jaws,” “Footloose” and “Star Wars,” playing as pictures from the movies flashed on a screen.
Amy Haskell, the 17-year-old daughter of one of the center’s employees, gave the decorating crew the initial idea for the display.
“She thought a little bit out of the box,” said therapist Erica Engelmann, who helped put together the display. “We were trying to pick a movie and she said, ‘If you pick one thing, what if another patch does the same thing?’ We wanted it to be a little different.”
Other organizations’ displays were based on a single movie, such as the “101 Dalmatians”-themed display by Penobscot Pediatrics, which took second place. Many of the people staffing the booth were dressed as Dalmatian dogs.
There was the usual variety of costumes this year, from princesses and counts to elephants and bears, along with plenty of children who chose to go with a Halloween theme of witches, ghouls and skeletons.
One pair of trick-or-treaters, sisters Erica Leighton and Kalyn Sutherland of Bangor, were dressed as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, respectively. They were the same costumes Leighton, now 23, and a third sister, Tiffany Sutherland, now 21, wore about eight years ago.
Kalyn Sutherland, now 10, was dressed as a honey pot when the costumes first were used. This year, she wanted to wear the Tigger costume with one of her sisters.
“I’m only doing this for her, “ Leighton said with a smile, looking at Kalyn.